Libyan strongman's assault on Tripoli claims 35 lives

Updated: Apr 09, 2019, 09:31 IST | Agencies

World powers have expressed alarm at the violence, saying it threatens to further destabilise Libya and derail UN-led efforts to find a solution

Libyan strongman's assault on Tripoli claims 35 lives
Forces loyal to the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) are pictured at the entrance leading to Tripoli’s old airport. Pics/AFP

Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar pushed on with his assault on Tripoli on Monday, defying international calls for a ceasefire days into a battle that has left dozens dead.

At least 35 people have been killed in fighting since Haftar's forces launched their assault on Thursday, Libya's unity government said, while the UN says thousands have been displaced.

Khalifa Haftar
Khalifa Haftar

Haftar has emerged as a major player, his self-styled Libyan National Army backing an administration in the country's east in opposition to the UN-backed unity government based in Tripoli. Having seized control of much of eastern Libya and buoyed by a series of victories in the desert south, Haftar turned his sights on Tripoli this month, vowing to "cleanse" it of "terrorists and mercenaries".

After a pause overnight, fighting resumed Monday morning around the capital's destroyed airport, and the rural area of Wadi Rabi further east. Unity government health minister A'hmid Omar said late Sunday that around 50 people had been wounded along with those killed. His ministry on Monday put the death toll at 35. Haftar's forces have said 14 of their fighters have died.

US urges 'immediate halt'

US is "deeply concerned" by the fighting near Tripoli and is seeking an "immediate halt" to the offensive, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday. "We have made clear that we oppose the military offensive by Khalifa Haftar's forces and urge the immediate halt to these military operations against the Libyan capital," he said.

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